For the first time in over five decades, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad will hold an election to elect its new international president, a move seen as an attempt to bring down its working international president Pravin Togadia’s control over the right-wing group. The election was necessitated after its members failed to reach to a consensus to decide between two names – Raghav Reddy and Vishnu Sadashiv Kokje. The election to elect new international president will be held on April 14 in Gurugram.
The process to elect the international president was supposed to be completed during the VHP’s Bhubaneswar meet in the last week of December but it was left incomplete after two contenders emerged in the race. VHP’s joint secretary Surendra Jain said that all formalities for April 14 election are over. He confirmed that the first effort was to reach consensus but when members couldn’t reach an agreement, it was decided that an election be held.
Reddy is considered close to Togadia. But his chances of getting elected to the post were dampened when Kokje joined the race. Kokje had served as the Governor of Himachal Pradesh between 2003 and 2008. He was appointed as a judge in the Madhya Pradesh High Court in 1990. Besides, he had served as an acting chief justice of Rajasthan High Court for 11 months in 2001.
The result of April 14 election will have an impact on the overall structure of the VHP. It will also decide the fate of Togadia who has been critical towards the BJP and RSS in last years. Togadia has managed to grab a place in media and public because of his outspoken attitude. In recent past, he had openly criticised the BJP for not fulfiling its Ram Mandir promise at the disputed site in Ayodhya. During the Gujarat Assembly polls last year, Togadia had criticised the government for not taking into consideration the farmers concerns.
Reacting to the April 14 election, a Times of India report said, Togadia pledged his support to Reddy. He said that he will continue as working president of the VHP if Reddy wins the election or else he will quit. Togadia said that Reddy and his family dedicated themselves towards the cause of the Hindutva whereas Kokje was never involved in any activity of the VHP.